BOSTON -- John Lackey fired a two-hitter and the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 on Thursday night at Fenway Park to clinch a playoff berth.
Boston is assured of at least a wild card. The Red Sox's magic number for clinching the American League East championship was two pending the result of the second-place Tampa Bay Rays' game against the Texas Rangers.
The Red Sox, who avoided a sweep in the three-game series, will be in the postseason for the first time since 2009.
Lackey had a no-hitter through 6 1/3 innings, but Baltimore's first hit wasn't a cheapie. Adam Jones clubbed an 0-1 pitch over the Green Monster.
Baltimore's only other hit was J.J. Hardy's eighth-inning single.
Lackey (10-12) threw his first nine-inning complete game of the season, finishing with two walks and eight strikeouts.
"John Lackey pitched just an outstanding ballgame," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It's somewhat fitting that to clinch a spot to get into the playoffs is with him on the mound and to go nine innings the way he did, like I said, very fitting."
The closest that Lackey has come to a no-hitter was 8 1/3 innings for the Los Angeles Angels against the Red Sox on July 29, 2008, at Fenway Park when Dustin Pedroia's single broke up his bid. Before Jones' home run, he had allowed two base runners, on two-out walks to Brian Roberts in the third and Nate McLouth in the sixth.
"I didn't get that far ahead," Lackey said of a potential no-hitter. "I felt pretty good. I was locating my fastball and had a little bit on it. My arm felt good.
"We were just trying to win a game, especially in a 3-0 game you can't get too far ahead of yourself with their lineup. That can get out of hand pretty quick.
"It was fun. Things lined up for me good tonight."
Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman (16-7) went seven innings, giving up three runs, seven hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.
"It was a small margin of error," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "But another example of Chris' maturity. To think that he was going to give us those seven is pretty impressive. ... The story was Lackey. It's one of those tip-your-hat nights."
Tillman said, "I was fighting to make adjustments all night. I think I was a little out of whack the whole game and me and (catcher Matt Wieters) and (pitching coach Bill Castro) were able to sit down and say, 'We've got to do something different here and make an adjustment.' Once I made a little bit of an adjustment they kept coming. It was a grind throughout."
The Red Sox took a three-run lead in the second. Stephen Drew hit a two-run homer, driving in Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who led off the inning with a double. Jackie Bradley Jr. doubled and scored on Dustin Pedroia's single.
NOTES: Orioles RHP Darren O'Day returned to action for the first time since Sept. 7, retiring one batter in the eighth inning. He was sidelined because of numbness in two fingers of his right hand. ... Orioles manager Buck Showalter is deciding between RHPs Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris for the Saturday start at Tampa Bay. Gonzalez left Sunday's game in Toronto with a strained right groin, and Norris missed a start due to tightness in his right elbow. ... Red Sox RF Shane Victorino did not play. He left Wednesday's game for a pinch hitter in the 12th inning. Manager John Farrell said Victorino, who has been dealing with a jammed right thumb, is considered day-to-day. ... Boston CF Jacoby Ellsbury has not yet begun baseball activities as he rehabs the fractured navicular bone in his right foot, an injury that occurred when he fouled off a ball off the foot Aug. 28. He continued playing but has not appeared in a game since Sept. 5. There is no timetable for his return.